An amazing trip: The value of customer service

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So I travel a lot, in the air almost every week.  I am in Atlanta, flying on to Michigan for a few days.  I am a 1K on United, flew over 100,000 miles with them last year, will be about the same this year.  That is a big deal, when I call for help they know my number, ask how is Mr. Hinshaw today?

I am in Atlanta, waiting a gate 15 for my flight leaving at 5:30 PM.  It boarded at 4:55 just fine, I am in 3 C, sat down and promptly fell asleep.  Woke up at 6:00, still sitting on the runway, which is not a good thing.  The Captain comes on, tells us we are heading back to the gate, some sort of mechanical issue.  Full disclosure, I am glad we went back to the gate.  I am confident that any sort of problem on an airplane can be fixed better 5 feet off the ground than they can at 30,000 feet.

When we got back to the gate, the pilot says we are going to disembark.  Get off the plane.  That is a very bad thing, means they are sure that plane is not going anywhere.  So we get off the plane, I look at the surrounding gates, notice that there is a flight going to the same city leaving from gate 14, in 45 minutes, how great is that?

All good until I hear them announce that flight is cancelled due to mechanical problems.  Wow, two planes going to same city, adjacent gates, and both with mechanical problems.  Unbelievable.

I get on the phone, my United agent says, how are you Mr. Hinshaw?  I tell her not so well, she says I know, you are stuck in Atlanta!  She says both the flights to my city are down, she had already booked me on a Delta flight leaving in two hours, exit row, aisle seat!  How great is that.  Gets even better.  At the Delta gate I witnessed the best gate agent ever.

He called out each passenger by name as he checked their boarding pass: how are we doing Mr. Jones, what a great hat Mrs. Smith.  Every customer.  It was amazing.  I was there an hour early, watched him in action on the flight before mine.  When he was finished with the earlier flight, he asked me where I was from.  Told him Colorado, he asked if I could recommend a ski resort.  I told him we had been to Copper Mountain several times, and while we did not ski, we had friends who did and they said it was excellent.  And it is close to Denver, at least compared to some that are a lot further up the mountain.  He actually took notes, thanked me for the reference.

How long has it been since you or someone from your company has delighted a customer?  Where they were not just satisfied, but rather you turned them into raving fans.  Where the experience was exceptional, much better than they had ever imagined.  It may be as a result of a problem that occurred (my experience with United), or the fact that they showed they cared while doing their job, such as Delta.  Either way, it is so rare that a company goes above and beyond that we are amazed when it happens.

So equip your employees to make a difference in the lives of your customers, to provide an outstanding experience.  In most cases our customers have not actually done a project of this magnitude before, no matter if we are talking about a new comfort system, a total remodel of the master bath or a 5 KW solar system installed on the roof.  We may have done 40 jobs just like this in the past, but not in this home.  This may be the first time this customer has ever opened up their home in this manner; they don’t know what is going to happen next.  Make sure your team helps them feel good about it,

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